This weekend, my mom and I are throwing a bridal shower!!  I’m planning another mini-series of posts about the projects we created, and what better way to start off than with the invitation?

I saw several gorgeous invitations in a lovely Etsy store.   But because I’m me, I wanted to create my own!

The color scheme in the shower is violet, pink, and orange, with accents of monarch-like butterflies.  Using my two inspiration images, I created a swatch file, and used those colors for the text on the invitation.



I am so excited about how it turned out– and how all of our shower projects turned out!  I look forward to sharing more of them soon!

butterfly: JenniBowlinStudio–JBS-BeachPartyButterfly.png
stitching: SaraSchmutz–Summer Picnic–border2.png
ribbon/banner: RobynMeierotto–Kraft Party Elements–KraftParty-KraftRibbon.png (recolored)
fonts: Albermarle Swash, Bergamot Ornaments, Graphis, Impact, PortlandRoman

I’m continuing our challenge from 2013 to make at least one new recipe from our two newer cookbooks each month.  There’s a category on the blog for these posts called “recipe review 2014.”

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ATK Beef Satay

Recipe:  Beef Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (page 377)

  • when did we make this? Saturday, April 5, for supper (even though this really is meant more as an appetizer, we had it as a main dish.
  • did we change anything?  Yes.  Husband made this dish, and he made some notes for me (he’s pretty awesome like that).  It was kind of a last-minute decision, so we made a few more substitutions than normal.  Neither of us likes cilantro, so we don’t keep it on hand and therefore left it out of the recipe.  He substituted onion flakes for the scallions.  In both the marinade and the peanut sauce, he used 1 tablespoon of Thai red curry paste instead of Sriracha.
  • what did we like?  Bold, tasty flavors in this dish!   It is delicious and would be a fantastic appetizer for a dinner party.
  • what didn’t we like?  The peanut sauce recipe makes a HUGE amount!  We didn’t have quite the entire weight of meat called for in the recipe, but we still had an absolute excess of sauce.  Next time I might halve it. 
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)?  I think yes, probably.  But more as an appetizer than a main dish!

beautiful flowers in one of the atriums of the National Gallery of Art

I was blessed by the words of this hymn this morning as we celebrated our Risen Lord!  I share them here so that you might be blessed, as well.  Happy Easter!


Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne,
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King
through all eternity.

Crown him the Lord of life,
who triumphed o’er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife
for those he came to save.
His glories now we sing,
who died, and rose on high,
who died, eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.

Crown him the Lord of peace,
whose power a scepter sways
from pole to pole, that wars may cease,
and all be prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end,
and round his pierced feet
fair flowers of paradise extend
their fragrance ever sweet.

Crown him the Lord of love;
behold his hands and side,
those wounds, yet visible above,
in beauty glorified.
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
For thou hast died for me;
thy praise and glory shall not fail
throughout eternity.

Crown Him with Many Crowns

Text: Matthew Bridges, 1800-1894, and Godfrey Thring, 1823-1903
Music: George J. Elvey, 1816-1893

I got a shiny new laptop!

I’m very excited about the prospect of working on a computer that can “keep up” with my memory usage, but right now I’m in that awkward transition stage where nothing is in the right place!  In fact, this morning, my new computer told me that it was going to take 11+ hours to migrate my photos (over our home network).  As you might expect, my focus for the next few days is to get everything moved and my software re-installed.

It’s going to be an adventure!  See you on the other side ;-)



I bought 1000 (one thousand; that is not a typo!) paper doilies.

I am committed.  Haha!

Want to know what they look like?

oh yes, I bought a case of 1,000 doilies.  And I am so excited!


I somehow expected a bigger box, but really, they are quite compact.

oh yes, I bought a case of 1,000 doilies.  And I am so excited!

So here’s the story about these doilies:

As I started planning the “sketches” for the daily highlight pages in V’s December album (You can read about the overall plan for the album HERE. You can see all posts related to this album project HERE.), I realized I wanted an element to soften the crisp, hard edges of the patterned paper blocks I would be using.  I had a couple doilies in this style that I’d saved from a restaurant in my embellishments box, and so I pulled them out.  Yes, I’m one of those people who sees a pretty doily under my side dish bowl and whisks it into my purse before food spills on it!  Haha.  As I developed my sketch ideas, I decided that these doilies were a must–these exact ones– and there should be one on every page.  Since there are going to be over 30 daily highlight pages in the album (one for each day, plus a few bonus ones for V’s first days), that would have meant a lot of trips to the restaurant for more doilies, haha!

I did try and contact the restaurant to find out more information about their doily supplier, and they did reply, but not with specific enough information.  I looked in my local craft stores (in the baking sections) to see if there were any comparable styles of doilies, but nothing was quite as perfectly lacy as these.  I got online myself and searched around until I found 5″ Cambridge Lace paper doilies.  As I looked, I decided that it wasn’t going to be too ridiculous of an investment to actually just buy a case– it was more cost-effective this way, and of course, I’ll be able to use approximate 970 doilies on other projects!

The funniest part to me is that I keep finding myself trying to justify this purchase.  Husband doesn’t care about how I spend my craft/hobby money, as long as I’m happy!  But I’d find myself saying “…and I can use them on cards!”  and then a little later, “…I use them on layouts!”  Every time I pop up with one of these remarks, Husband just shakes his head and says, “That’s fine!  Enjoy your doilies!” and yet, I still feel the need to justify.  Haha!

~ ~ ~

Okay, so enough about the doilies for now.  What about the layouts for V’s December album?

I mentioned in my March goals recap that I was able to cut paper pieces for about 16 of my pages at a craft afternoon at church.  That was awesome!  I told myself that within the first hour of being there, I had to have chopped into my paper to start prepping the layouts.  No dilly-dallying, no waffling or being afraid to use the paper I’d purchased expressly for this project!

Originally, I thought that the layouts would be based on one sketch, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I would be bored silly with 30+ layouts of essentially the same design, even if the papers were different.  Before the craft afternoon, I sat down and designed four main sketches (which then have four variations, based on photo orientation and vertical mirroring).


Once I got to church and began working, I chose measurements to approximate the sketches and started chopping.  I prepped four layouts at a time.  I took some (really crummy!!) photos with my (very old) iPhone to help me to remember what papers went where, in case they ended up getting mixed in my project box.  In the photos below, you can see that I varied the photo orientations and even had some of my pilfered doilies (this was before my thousand were even ordered!) and my 4×6 prints to help me visualize.

2014_03_08_layoutprogress-EditThis “batch-processing” is working so well!  I haven’t done anything (except order doilies!) since the church  craft day, because I’ve been prioritizing bridal shower preparations (see my April goals!), but I am so excited to continue with this project.  It’s another of my goals for April to finish these layouts– or at least take them a lot further along.

I’m continuing our challenge from 2013 to make at least one new recipe from our two newer cookbooks each month.  There’s a category on the blog for these posts called “recipe review 2014.”

~ ~ ~

ATK Tangerine (made with orange) Beef

Recipe:  Tangerine Stir-Fried Beef with Onion and Snow Peas from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (page 391)

  • when did we make this? Thursday, April 3, for supper
  • did we change anything? I used oranges instead of tangerines (substitution provided in the recipe), and I also substituted sugar snap peas for the snow peas, because I prefer them.
  • what did we like?  Everything about this dish is delicious.  The beef is tender, the sauce is super flavorful, and the peas are the perfect crunchy touch.  
  • what didn’t we like?  I cut my onions a bit too small, so they didn’t have as much presence as I hoped.  But that was my fault, and not the recipe’s!
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)?  Yes!!!  Even after the first bite, we were talking about how this recipe is definitely on our must-make-again (and even on a regular basis!) list.

I’m continuing our challenge from 2013 to make at least one new recipe from our two newer cookbooks each month.  There’s a category on the blog for these posts called “recipe review 2014.”

~ ~ ~

SK chocolate brioche pretzels

SK chocolate brioche pretzels

Recipe:  Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (pages 17-19)

  • when did we make this? Monday, March 31, 2014, because I’m pregnant, I saw the recipe while flipping through the cookbook, and I had to have them.
  • did we change anything?  Most notably, I used sea salt on top rather than the coarse or pearl sugar called for in the recipe, mostly because I simply didn’t have coarse sugar, but also because I thought that the salty counterpoint would taste good (I like salty-sweet!).  I also halved the recipe.  It took a bit longer to bake my pretzels than the recipe’s suggested baking time, and they didn’t get nearly as browned as the photographs in the book, because I was afraid of over-baking.
  • what did we like?  These pretzels tasted exactly how I expected and wanted them to.  It was the perfect satisfaction to my craving.  They are not quite as sweet as “dessert” (they are, after all, found in the breakfast section of the book), but that was just fine by me. 
  • what didn’t we like?  Nothing– only that I didn’t start them earlier in the day so that I could have eaten them earlier in the day ;-)  (It’s a longer rise time than what I normally expect in a yeast dough.)
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)? Yes!!

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